EQAO relies on educators to administer the assessments in accordance with EQAO guidelines and to ensure the security and validity of the assessments. Students with special education needs or a special consideration outlined in this user guide are eligible for permitted accommodations.
All directions relating to accommodations outlined in this user guide must be adhered to whether the student is taking the assessment in an electronic format or with an alternative version. Instructional materials that facilitate responses to questions cannot be used.
Role of the School Administrator for Accommodations and Exemptions
The school administrator is responsible for :
- adhering to the Professional Responsibilities;
- making decisions about student participation;
- making decisions about all required student accommodations;
- ensuring that all accommodations and exemptions are provided;
- documenting the relevant information in the e-assessment system according to the instructions in this user guide;
- sending an information letter to parents or guardians outlining approved accommodations; and/or,
- sending an information letter to parents or guardians informing them of the exemption and asking their consent for the exemption.
Sample administration, accommodation and exemption letters are available through the Letters, Checklists and Scripts section of this guide. Keep a copy of the letters at the school.
Decisions about accommodations and special considerations must be made:
- based on the directions outlined in this user guide and according to the student’s IEP or special consideration;
- so that they are consistent with regular classroom practices, including assessments;
- prior to the assessment;
- for each student individually; and,
- in consultation with the student and parents or guardians and with the appropriate teaching staff.
Students with Special Education Needs
Students with special education needs are eligible for accommodations. These accommodations should be listed in their Individual Education Plan (IEP) and used for regular classroom activities, including all types of assessment. These accommodations must be documented in the e-assessment system by the school administrator under the Accommodations tab.
Refer to the section Support for Students During the Assessments for information regarding supports for all students.
For information on how to assign an accommodation to a student in the e-assessment system, see the section Viewing and Managing Additional Accommodations and Exemptions for Students.
Permitted accommodations can be provided to students who are unable to participate in the assessment without these accommodations, due to special considerations. School administrators must indicate applicable special considerations in the student information under the Accommodations tab in the e-assessment system.
Special considerations include the following:
- Temporary or Unique Circumstance: The student does not have an IEP and the school administrator has granted permission for accommodations due to the student’s temporary or unique circumstance that hinders the student from completing the assessment online.
- New to School: The student does not have an IEP, due to a recent transfer into the school from another jurisdiction and has received the appropriate supervisory officer’s permission for accommodations. There is documentation to show that accommodations are necessary.
- English Language Learner: The student is an English Language Learner in the early stages or steps of English-language acquisition and requires permitted accommodations. It is assumed that these accommodations are offered to the student during classroom assessments throughout the school year.
Decisions about exemptions must be made :
- prior to the assessment;
- for each student individually; and,
- in consultation with the student, parents or guardians and with the appropriate teaching staff, and with the consent of the parents or guardians.
An exemption may be provided to students who cannot complete the assessment online or on a printed copy with permitted accommodations.
A student must be exempted from the reading component of the assessment if the built-in text-to-speech audio or an external text-to-speech software is not sufficient to allow the student to access the reading assessment.
A student must be exempted from the mathematics component of the assessment if the student requires mathematics terms to be defined.
The student must be permitted to write the assessment if the parents or guardians request it.
To exempt a student for all or part of the assessment, follow the steps in Viewing and Managing Additional Accommodations and Exemptions for Students and select the exemption box for each component (reading, writing and/or mathematics) that is required.
For all accommodations, the guidelines and instructions outlined in this user guide must be adhered to. Instructional materials that facilitate responses to questions cannot be used during the assessment.
Note: There can be no deviation from EQAO guidelines and instructions without explicit written direction from EQAO.
Accommodations are permitted for students who :
- have an IEP, which outlines accommodations that are necessary for and consistent with regular classroom practices; and,
- receive these accommodations for all forms of assessment; or,
- have a special consideration as outlined in this user guide.
The following accommodations are permitted:
- Sign language or an oral interpreter
- Verbatim scribing of responses (refer to the Guidelines for Scribes section)
- Alternative version of the assessment (refer to Formats of the Alternative Version)
- Additional assistive technology
For information on how to assign an accommodation to a student, see the section Viewing and Managing Additional Accommodations and Exemptions for Students.
Guidelines for Scribes
Students are permitted to work with a scribe if they have this accommodation in their IEP or have a special consideration. Scribes must be adults and must not be relatives of the students they are assisting. Scribes should work only with students who have been identified as receiving a scribing accommodation, and they should not scribe for any other students. School administrators are responsible to review the guidelines with individuals who will be acting as scribes.
Scribes must follow the guidelines below:
- Record the student’s responses to open-response questions by transcribing exactly what the student dictates into the e-assessment platform directly or writing on the Assessment Response Sheet.
- Record answers to the selected-response questions (e.g., single-selection questions) into the e-assessment platform directly or writing onto the printable PDF format.
- Assume each sentence begins with a capital and ends with a period.
- Read the dictation back to the student if requested.
- Prompt the student’s attention back to the assessment. Prompts can include a tap on the desk or a verbal signal (e.g., a word or phrase) to draw the student’s attention back to the assessment.
- Show the student the transcription after the student has finished responding to a question, and ask if any corrections are necessary. Make corrections according to the student’s directions.
Scribes must avoid the following:
- Reviewing the assessment prior to administration.
- Editing or altering the student’s dictation in any way, unless directed by the student.
- Correcting the student’s responses, unless directed by the student.
- Prompting in order to draw the student’s attention to a specific part of the assessment. Prompts do not include clarification, explanation or translation of any part of the assessment.
- Initiating the use of test-taking strategies.
- Showing any reaction to the student’s responses.
- Engaging in incidental conversation with the student or others.
Transcribing Student Responses into the E-Assessment Platform
It is important to transcribe exactly what the student has identified as their response. All student responses must be entered into the e-assessment platform, except when a student has handwritten responses to open-response questions on the Assessment Response Sheet (language component only) and they are scanned and uploaded into the e-assessment system.
If a student uses the alternative version of the assessment (e.g., regular-print, large-print or Braille format), a scribe can enter the responses directly into the e-assessment platform or they can record responses on the printable PDF. If the scribe records the student’s responses on the printable PDF, then after the student completes the session or stage, the responses must be transcribed into the e-assessment platform.
Note: Once all the student’s responses have been entered into the e-assessment platform for both sessions and successfully submitted, all printed and electronic copies of the assessment must be kept secure and must be accounted for at all times. After the Individual Student Reports are made available to the school administrator, all the printed and electronic copies of the assessment must be shredded and/or deleted.
Formats of the Alternative Version
The alternative version of the assessment is available for students with special education needs or a special consideration.
The alternative version:
- contains single-select and open-response questions only; and,
- does not use the multi-stage computer adaptive testing model for the mathematics component.
If a student requires the alternative version of the assessment because their accommodations noted on their IEP or special consideration prevents them from accessing the online assessment or if they require audio with or without full descriptions of mathematics graphics (for blind and low vision students), it must be requested by the school administrator in the e-assessment system under the Alternative Version Request tab.
The following formats of the alternative version are available for the sample test and the assessment:
- Unified English Braille (contracted or uncontracted);
- Printable PDF (regular or large print); and
- Online alternative version of the assessment (for students who require full descriptions of all mathematics graphics and/or who can only complete single-selection questions).
There are two ways for students using the alternative version to access the audio format:
- by separate audio MP3 files; or,
- using the audio directly in the e-assessment platform (built-in-text-to-speech).
For both ways, there are two audio formats available for the mathematics component:
- audio with full descriptions of all mathematics graphics for students who have a visual impairment; or,
- audio without full descriptions of all mathematics graphics.
A printable PDF (regular or large print) of the assessment will be included when the Braille format is ordered.
All responses for students using the alternative version of the assessment must be entered into the e-assessment platform, either by the student or transcribed into their online assessment according to the guidelines.
EQAO requires between five and seven business days to process a request for Braille, and three business days to process a request for all other formats.
Once the request to EQAO is approved in the e-assessment system, the alternative version of the sample test will be provided to schools in the same format.
The online alternative version will match the approved formats ONLY for the student for whom it was approved.
For guidelines and information about requesting the alternative version refer to Requesting an Alternative Version of the Assessment.
Accessibility and Accommodation Software
All students writing the Assessments of Reading, Writing and Mathematics, Primary and Junior Divisions have access to built-in accessibility tools such as a text-to-speech reader and a text zoom tool.
Additional assistive technology software is available to students with special education needs or a special consideration. Schools are encouraged to use the chosen assistive technology during the online practice test to ensure the technology functions appropriately for the student.
The following is a list of additional assistive technology software supported by the e-assessment platform and must be selected in the e-assessment system by the school administrator:
- the Read&Write for Google Chrome extension
- Kurzweil: the downloadable version
- Kurzweil: the extensions for Firefox and Chrome
- Read Aloud
- Job Action with Speech (JAWS)
- Natural Reader
Note: Variations in the pronunciation or inflection of words and phrases may occur due to the variety of software, speech engines and computer systems. Revisions may be made by the school to rectify such variations, providing that no change is made to any content.
If a student requires one or more of these assistive technologies, or an assistive technology that is not listed here, please contact your school board IT representative.
If a student is using any of the assistive technologies described above, they may also require the alternative version of the assessment (follow the steps in Requesting an Alternative Version of the Assessment). A school administrator must indicate in the e-assessment system that the student has an accommodation and then select the appropriate format of the alternative version of the assessment.
Once approved by EQAO, the alternative version will be assigned to the student in the e-assessment platform and a link to the matching printable PDF if required will be sent to the school administrator through the Message Centre. Students who use the printable PDF or the braille format of the assessment will need to respond directly in the e-assessment platform or will need to have their responses transcribed by the school administrator, teacher or scribe.
Read&Write for Google Chrome
Students who have Read&Write noted in their IEP or special consideration may use this assistive technology to complete the Assessments of Reading, Writing and Mathematics, Primary and Junior Divisions.
Read&Write for Google Chrome is supported by the e-assessment platform. The primary- and junior-division assessments include various question formats (drag and drop, drop-down menu, checklist, selected response). As these questions are more interactive than those in a standard document or on a webpage, students will need to use the Read&Write Hover Speech tool to access them.
The e-assessment platform has a built-in text-to-speech tool that is designed to work with the assessment platform. If a student is less proficient with the Read&Write Hover Speech tool, the built-in text-to-speech tool may be an alternative way to meet the student’s needs.
Below are some videos that demonstrate how two features in the toolbar can be used:
- the Hover Speech tool—to hear questions, words and passages from the assessments read aloud with colour highlighting
- the Word Prediction tool—to write words or sentences
Example of a drop-down menu question read aloud:
Example of an open-response question read aloud:
Example of the Word Prediction tool used in an open-response question:
Additional videos are available in the Additional Resources section of this user guide.
Students who require JAWS may use this assistive technology to complete the assessment.
JAWS is supported by the e-assessment platform.
The following videos demonstrate how to use this assistive technology with the e-assessment platform.
Videos coming soon.
If the student requires Kurzweil, follow the steps in Viewing and Managing Additional Accommodations and Exemptions for Students and select the appropriate Kurzweil box for each component that is required.
Note: If the student is using the Kurzweil application (downloadable version), they will need a printable PDF of the assessment. A school administrator must indicate in the e-assessment system that the student has an accommodation and then select this format under the tab Alternative Version Requests.